Thursday, July 31, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Yesterday, I noted that Turkey’s ruling AKP1 had been spared from banning by the country’s highest court, but that the court had also ruled to cut it’s funding. As was noted in the comment section of the post, such a cut is potentially quite serious.

The CSM referred to the ruling as a suspension of funding (but says nothing else about that aspect of the decision):

a majority also voted to suspend public funding for the party stated that half of the party’s state funding was removed. The Economist noted:

By stopping short but cutting off some public money, the judges have instead sent a signal to Mr Erdogan and yet avoided a huge confrontation.

A different Economist story has more details:

This is expected to be the loss of half of AK’s state funding, which amounted to 47m Turkish lira ($40m) last year.

The only full explanation of the implications of the funding issue can be found the NYT’s write-up about the ruling:

There appear to be no practical implications for the party aside from the cut in financing, which is expected to be made up from other sources in the party’s vast middle- and upper-class network of supporters.

As such, the cut in funding would appear to amount to a substantial fine more than a crippling blow to the operating budget of the party and, if this is an accurate explanation, mean that there will be no diminution in the party’s ability to mount electoral campaigns in the future. 2

Beyond the AKP itself, the Reuters write-up on the ruling underscores what was at stake in terms of the Turkish economy Turkish AK Party court victory is double-edged sword:

The verdict against banning a democratically elected party rescued Turkey from political chaos, which would have likely brought a halt to European Union membership talks. A closure would also have hit vital reforms and economic growth.

The turmoil had already wiped several billion dollars off the value of the Istanbul stock exchange and hurt foreign direct investment in Turkey’s $700 billion economy.

(Reuters did not comment on the funding question.)

Also in regards to economic effects, the WSJ noted:

Investors cheered the ruling. After the verdict, the local currency climbed to a four-month high, and some bank shares enjoyed a double-digit lift. The decision “has avoided a calamity,” said Chris Scicluna, an economist at Daiwa in London.

As well as:

The court judgment could also give a boost to Turkey’s long-stalled efforts to join the European Union. Olli Rehn, the EU official handling Turkey’s membership bid to the largely Christian bloc, warned in a speech early this summer that the banning of political parties isn’t in line with European norms. He described Turkey’s political tensions as a battle between “extreme” secularists and “Muslim democrats, many of whom are reformed post-Islamists.”

  1. The Justice and Development Party []
  2. As such, I feel less bad about my flippancy from yesterday. []
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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Constitution reforms ‘need work’.

At this point the reform is in draft form. Of interest is an increase in the power by the parliament over the Prime Minister and the cabinet, especially in foreign/military affairs.

The draft report has been dubbed as needing “further work.”

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Wednesday, July 30, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Turkey’s ruling party escapes ban

Turkey’s Constitutional Court has decided not to ban the ruling AK Party, accused of undermining the country’s secular system.

But the judges did cut half the AKP’s treasury funding for this year.

That’ll show ‘em!1

In all seriousness, this is a healthy result for Turkish democratic development as well as a positive move for all who would like to see a functional example of democracy in an Islamic society.

Still, the overall situation is not at healthy as one might like:

At least seven of the 11 court judges would need to vote in favour for the party to be banned. But six judges wanted a ban and five did not want to do so.

Being one vote shy of being banned is escaping by the thinnest of margins.

  1. I honestly have no idea which funds or what they are used for–and the story does not elaborate. []
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Tuesday, July 29, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

James Madison: (The American Presidents Series) James Madison: by Garry Wills

My review

  • el
  • pt

  • rating: 3 of 5 stars
    This is a rather brief book that is useful for getting some context about the Madison presidency, but is a lot less biographical than it ought to be. One does not get much of a sense of the man or even of his presidency (aside from the fact that it was somewhat dysfunctional).

    Most of the discussion is understandably focused on the War of 1812, but in so doing the focus is less on the President at war as it is simply on the war itself. Indeed, there are some relatively lengthy segments that describe naval (and other) battles.

    I liked it enough to give it three stars, but the fact that I bought the book off of a clearance table likely enhances my overall view of it, as it wasn’t worth paying full price.

    View all my reviews.

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    By Steven L. Taylor

    Via the Montgomery Advertiser: Everett mulls gubernatorial bid in 2024

    Outgoing Republican U.S. Rep. Terry Everett said Monday that he is considering a possible run for governor in 2024.


    Everett had more than $806,000 on hand in his congressional campaign account at the end of the last reporting period, which concluded in June.

    “I want to consider my options,” he said.

    Everett would be knocking on 74 by the time he assumed the governorship in 2024, should he run and win.

    One wonders as to how much this is Everett seeing the end of his time in the House coming to a close and having a little bit of retirer’s remorse, so to speak. At the moment the GOP field for the governor’s race is forming, with Tim James1 having already tossed his hat in the ring. It is also clear that Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins2 is mulling a run. There has also been speculation about AG Troy King running as well.

    On the Democratic side, Representative Artur Davis is an oft-discussed possibility. The current Lieutenant Governor (and former Governor3 ) Jim Folsom is also a likely candidate.

    1. Son of former governor Fob James, and an already once-failed candidates for the GOP nomination. []
    2. Yes, the head of my university. []
    3. Folsom assumed the governorship from the lt. gov’s slot in 1993 when Governor Guy Hunt was ousted over ethics charges. Folsom (whose father was governor) did not win his own term when he ran in 1994, being defeated by Fob James, himself a former governor who switched parties from the Dems to the Reps. []
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    By Steven L. Taylor

    Via Marc Ambinder

    The following three Democrats are being vetted by Eric Holder and Caroline Kennedy and there is independent evidence that Obama is taking a serious look at them:

    Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, Gov. Tim Kaine, Sen. Evan Bayh.

    Additionally, allies of Sen. Joe Biden say that he is under serious consideration, although he is not being subjected to the same level of vetting.

    Of the list, Ambinder notes:

    Sebelius and Kaine are both governing choices, not campaign choices. They’re not going to match Obama’s enthusiasm levels; they’re not going to do all that well at the VP debates; they’re not even going to solve political problems (even Kaine). But they are solid; they are centrist-in-style; they are Washington outsiders; they know how to balance budgets and deal with Republicans. As an historical analogy, think Clinton’s choice of Gore.

    I can see that to a point. However, Sebelius does bring the gender issue to the table, which might placate some who were concerned with the gender issue in the primaries (but that could at least semi-backfire as the hardcore Clinton supporters might use the choice of another woman as a reason to feel slighted), but it seems rather unlikely that she would put Kansas into play. The fact that Kaine is the governor of Virginia has to help in that increasingly purple state. Of course, Bayh will hardly match Obama’s enthusiasm levels, either (I am not sure who would in terms of veepables). The convention wisdom is that Bayh does help in Indiana.

    I am not seeing Biden, as he is too much of a loose cannon.

    Kaine, meanwhile, appears to be getting the most press this morning.

    Via WaPo: Kaine in ‘Serious’ Talks With Obama

    Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine has told close associates that he has had “very serious” conversations with Sen. Barack Obama about joining the Democratic presidential ticket and has provided documents to the campaign as it combs through his background, according to several sources close to Kaine.

    Likewise, the Politico reports: Kaine ‘very, very high’ on VP shortlist

    Kaine, an early Obama supporter whose biography nicely dovetails with the Illinois senator’s, “ranks very, very high on the short list,” said a source who has spoken recently to senior Obama aides about Kaine.

    Kaine “is getting a critical examination,” the source said.

    Meanwhile the NYT notes that rather obvious fact that an Obama-Clinton Ticket Is Seen as Unlikely.

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    Monday, July 28, 2024
    By Steven L. Taylor

    Mike Munger took a few less words to analyze the Klavan piece comparing Bush to Batman:

    I think this gentleman is batsh*t.


    Granted, not my style, but easier to read than my lengthy post over at OTB from yesterday and perhaps it captures the overall flavor of the piece better than I did.

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    By Steven L. Taylor

    Via the AP: Labrador ‘runs’ for mayor of Fairhope, Alabama.

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    By Steven L. Taylor

    Two things to follow up on my post on The Dark Knight and foreign/security policy.

    First, in thinking more about the movie, I will say that there are two scenes/actions by Batman that could be seen to mirror part of the GWoT debate (and I will be vague so as not to spoil anything). There is an interrogation scene and a scene about surveillance that raises privacy questions. I note, however, that in both cases they deal with a person who is known to be guilty and not only guilty, but still in the process of committing extremely violent crimes. Much like scenes in 24 or the ever-popular ‘ticking timebomb” scenario, the guilt and threat presented by the person against whom extraordinary measures are being used is unambiguous.

    Of course, the irony on the interrogation scene is the information that the interrogator wants is ultimately freely shared (no extraordinary interrogation techniques were actually needed) and in regards to the privacy issue there is a rather clear check on the system that makes abuse of the system impossible. And again, in both scenes, the only person being harmed is as guilty as one can be–no real moral conundrum at all.

    All of this feeds into my next point, which is that Matthew Yglesias captured well in the following sentence my basic point about the comparison of the movie to reality and where I disagree with Klavan as well as most of the commenters at OTB about the post:

    I think Cheney would look at the movie and say “see — this is what we’re doing.” I look at the movie and say “see — if you were fighting a comic book bad guy and you were a comic book hero then your policies would make sense.”

    And this is my basic point: the paradigm in fighting terroristic organizations is hardly that of the fight against the supervillain (regardless of how it is often presented as such to the public). As I noted yesterday, the destruction of Saddam (the supervillain in Iraq) did not solve the problem and while getting Osama bin Laden would be great, that won’t solve the problem of Islamic extremism. In the movies catching the Joker ends that problem, in real life getting the iconic leader may solve nothing.

    Beyond that, like in the interrogation and surveillance examples above, the issues in the movie/comic is straightforward: focusing such tools only on the known supervillain. Yet in real life those tools end up being used on persons other than the villain because we are not always sure who the villain is. In the real world, people who don’t deserve to be sent to Guantanamo and hardly interrogated are and in the real world the innocent get caught up in the surveillance dragnet.

    Put another way, let me quote Porch Dog:

    this is precisely why I would discourage people from trying to find the exact, real-world fit for the commentary made in The Dark Knight…it’s fantasy….real over the top, adolescent-inspired fantasy. The main character is a ninja that dresses up like a bat. The main bad guy is the lead singer of the Insane Clown Posse.

    As such, it makes for a poor guide to much of anything in the real world.

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    Sunday, July 27, 2024
    By Steven L. Taylor

    Said an American politician, speaking to an international audience:

    “I speak today as both a citizen of the United States and of the world. I come with the heartfelt wishes of my people for peace, bearing honest proposals and looking for genuine progress.”

    I mean can you imagine? Didn’t this politician know that he was an American? What kind of internationalist claptrap was he peddling?

    Thankfully there are a number of folks issuing correctives to such odd ways of thinking.

    As Victor Davis Hanson noted

    I would not speak to anyone as “a fellow citizen of the world,” but only as an ordinary American who wishes to do his best for the world, but with a much-appreciated American identity, and rather less with a commonality indistinguishable from those poor souls trapped in the Sudan, North Korea, Cuba, or Iran. Take away all particular national identity and we are empty shells mouthing mere platitudes, who believe in little and commit to even less.

    And James Lileks:

    Novel sentiments aside, “World citizen” is used as a badge of empathy that carries no responsibilities. The more it’s used, though, the more it dilutes actual national citizenship, which naturally takes second place to World Citizenship…To say you’re a citizen of the world and a citizen of America places the latter in the primary slot, no?

    Or as J.D. Longstreet of the Conservative Voice said this week:

    I have a lot of difficulty relating to anyone who claims citizenship in the world. Frankly, that person is frightening. Saying one is a citizen of the world negates one’s actual citizenship as’ well, a native of the country within which he/she was born and, to which, he/she owes allegiance. Saying you are a citizen of the world is too’well’ vague.

    I mean really what was Ronald Reagan thinking?!?

    The horror of the phrase is just about too much for me to bear.

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